Yes; I kept a diary, and intend to quote from it
(though the material which it contains is meagre).
But need this be amplified? . . .
" Thursday. Went on working-party, 3 to 10.30 p.m.
Marched to Festubert, a ruined village, shelled to
bits. About 4.30, in darkness and rain, started up half
a mile of light-railway lines through marsh, with
sixty men. Then they carried hurdles up the com-
munication trenches, about three-quarters of a mile,
which took two hours. Flares went up frequently; a
few shells, high overhead, and exploding far behind
us. The trenches are very wet. Finally emerged at a
place behind the first- and second-line trenches,
where new trenches (with 'high-command breast-
works') are being dug.
"Saturday. Working-party again. Started 9.45 p.m.
in bright moonlight and iron frost. Dug 12—2. Men
got soup in ruined house in Festubert, with the moon
shining through matchwood skeleton rafters. Up
behind the trenches, the frost-bound morasses and
ditches and old earthworks in moonlight, with dusky
figures filing across the open, hobbling to avoid
slipping. Home 4.15.
"Sunday. Same as Saturday. Dug 12—2. Very
"Monday. Went with working-party at 3 p.m. Wet
day. Awful mud. Tried to dig, till 7.30, and came
home soaked. Back 9.45. Beastly night for the men,
whose billets are wretched."
I can see myself coming in, that last night, with
Julian Durley, a shy, stolid-faced platoon commander
who had been a clerk in Somerset House. He took
the men's discomforts very much to heart. Simple
and unassertive, he liked sound literature, and had a
sort of metropolitan turn of humour. His jokes, when